When my parents passed away a few months ago, it was left to me to clean out our family home and get it ready for sale. I tackled the attic last as it was full of moldering boxes of “stuff” from
generations gone by. One box revealed stacks of photo albums, and curious, I stopped to leaf through them. The newer ones were of our generation as well as our children and grandchildren. I leafed
quickly through them, smiling at the memories they evoked.
But time was a-wasting, and there was much yet to do. Still curious, I checked out some of the older albums, but they were full of formal pictures of starched men and stiff-postured women. Captions underneath stated dates and names, none of which were familiar to me. Being an avid armature historian, I stacked the albums in a new box and carried it downstairs for later investigation.
Returning to the attic, I continued sorting, tossing and repacking in fresh boxes until the slanting rays of the setting sun poured through the west window.
“It’s about time to call it a day,” I said to the orange and white cat that had “helped” me in investigating the boxes.
“We’ll just empty this box, then go down and get some food.” That last word caught his attention and he started for the stairs, but as I ripped open the top of another box, he returned and pushed his head into the box, inspecting each old piece of newspaper as I pulled it out.
“Nothing much in this one, I’m afraid,” I told him. He obviously agreed as he turned with a double flip of his tail and headed back for the stairs.
“Wait! There’s a box at the bottom. It’s small. Maybe a jewelry box of some kind.” Magically the cat was in the carton inspecting the little box. He pawed at it, then looked up at me and meowed. He kept pawing and meowing, his voice becoming strident with excitement.
“Ok, ok, big fella, get out of the way so I can open it, will you!” His nose followed the box as I lifted it.
“The way you are behaving it must be an old musty rat or someth…ing.”
The box lid popped open and the rays of the setting sun caught in the facets of a beautifully cut gem. My eyes were dazzled with sparkling light as it danced off the gem so that at first, I could not see what color it was. In the dancing light I could see images, flashes of scenes, gone instantly as I turned the stone away from the light. Now I could see what I held in my hand: a perfectly cut ruby almost the shape of a human heart, about the size of a child’s fist. It was encased in a delicate cage of gold threads and hung from a long chain of handcrafted gold links.
The cat rubbed his nose against the ruby, purring loudly, then sat, his tail curled around his feet, staring intently at me.
“Cat,” I whispered. “Is this THE Ruby Heart of the stories Dad told when we were kids?” He responded with a trilling “purrp” and a nod of his head, just as if he understood my question.
“But… I thought those were just stories! Hey, Cat, if the Ruby is real,” I whispered. "Do you think the stories were, too?”
"Cat" Later his name changed to Orange Boy Won a Home or OB Won for short and a chuckle.
Marian Webb Betts is a Storyteller, whether using a pen and paper, a paint brush or a camera, or any digital format, too.
Growing up in the South Sudan, Africa, Marian’s family had none of the modern means of entertainment such as television, radio or libraries. For evening entertainment her Father, E. Alan Webb made up stories about adventures based on his own experiences: traveling the savannah, hiking the jungle, fishing in the Nile River, interacting with the different tribes and animals he encountered, and which we well knew. A rich tapestry of sight, sound – and odors.
Moving to Khartoum, Sudan, Marian was able to access the British Library, reading and rereading books such as Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, and Robin Hood, and Enid Blyton’s children’s adventure series (similar to the Nancy Drew series). Her favorite adult author is Lady Mary Stewart whose descriptive writing will transport you to the land of her stories.
Marian married an airman who she met at Southern Illinois University. During the seven years they were married, he was stationed at five different bases in England, the US, and Viet Nam. While they were in England, Marian took advantage of the galleries, museums and libraries to study the masters, archeology, anthropology, biology, and history.
Returning to the SIU while her husband was in Viet Nam, she attended classes in Graphic Layout & Design, Illustration, Photography and Black & White Photo development as well as four-color screen printing.
Settling in Sacramento, CA after her husband left, Marian continued her studies in Photography and Darkroom Techniques, Fashion Design & Construction, as well as Interior Design & Development. Hiring on to Pacific Bell as a Manual Drafter, Marian was accredited in Civil Drafting, Computer Aided Drafting & Design (CADD), and Geographical Information Systems (GIS).
Once her two children were happily married and ensconced in California, Marian returned to the Midwest where she discovered her heartfelt home. Here she returned to school as she continued to work and received her ASS in IT/Web Design.
Now she is retired, Marian divides her time between Wildlife Photography, Digital Art and writing. Because she grew up in the Sudan, Marian spoke and read both English and American (yes there is a difference!), French and Arabic, plus several Sudanese dialects in her very early years. Her parents were upper middleclass English with very good educations. Her Father, E. Alan Webb was an English and Bible Professor and her Mother, Phyllis (Hawkins) Webb was an accomplished poet and songwriter. Marian’s English grammar is excellent, although she’s very thankful for SpellCheck as her spelling is atrocious as she gets her languages mixed up at times.
Although Marian’s pleasure writing is historical adventure stories, she also has experience creating and writing her own syllabi for her sewing classes, Standard Operating Procedures for small businesses and nfp companies, catalogs, newsletters and instructional and just-for-fun articles.
Marian’s first novel was published last December and may be purchased on Amazon or Barnes & Nobles. Its titled is RUBY HEART: The Legend Begins, and as the title suggests, it is the beginning of a series with the second book due out in December 2018. Read more about the series under the "Books" tab.
Monday through Saturday:
8:00a.m. to 5p.m. EST.